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Bob Keyes

Bob Keyes has written about the arts in Maine since 2002. He’s never been much an artist himself, other than singing in junior high school chorus and acting in a few musicals. But he’s attended museums, theaters, clubs and concert halls all his life, and cites Bob Dylan as most influential artist of any kind since Picasso. He lives in Berwick.

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Posted: January 30, 2017

Abstract exhibition reflects the taste of Greenhut Galleries’ new owners

Written by: Bob Keyes
Ken Greenleaf "Lotus Blossom" acrylic on canvas on shaped support Photos courtesy of Greenhut Galleries

Ken Greenleaf
“Lotus Blossom”
acrylic on canvas on shaped support
Photos courtesy of Greenhut Galleries

Greenhut Galleries hasn’t survived 40 years for no reason. The Old Port gallery’s endurance can be attributed to showing colorful, bold and, by and large, representational paintings by Maine’s best-known painters.

In February, the gallery is switching it up and hosting an exhibition that features the state’s best-known abstract painters. “Abstraction Invitational” opens Thursday and runs through Feb. 25.

It’s a large show, with more than two dozen established Maine artists submitting some of their favorite work.

“We’re always trying to think of different themes,” said gallery manager Jessica McCarthy. “It seemed like a good time to do an exhibition about abstract art in Maine. There’s plenty of it.”

The exhibition includes paintings by Richard Brown Lethem, George Lloyd and Tom Paiement, as well as the late Frederick Lynch and Jon Imber. Several artists are associated with the gallery, and McCarthy and the staff at Greenhut reached across the state to be inclusive. “The Portland area alone has so many artists we could have invited,” McCarthy said.

One of Lynch’s large division paintings will anchor the gallery’s front window, facing Middle Street. The rest of the work is hung toward the back of the gallery in space dedicated to revolving exhibitions.

Last summer, longtime Greenhut owner Peggy Golden sold the gallery to a California couple, John Danos and Kelley Lehr. While Greenhut has always included non-representational artists on its roster, this show reflects the tastes and interests of the new owners, several artists said.

“Non-representational painting has not been at the top of the pyramid over there,” Lloyd said. “This is pushing the boundaries a bit. It’s almost community outreach.”

Lloyd has two pieces in the exhibition, “Pompeiian Wall” from the 1990s and “Crepuscular Reverie” from recent years. He calls himself an “impure abstractionist.”

“Abstract means it’s derived from something,” he said. “My pictures have a lot of aspects of the real world in them. Although it depicts nothing in particular, ‘Crepuscular Reverie’ still has elements of air, light and atmosphere.”

Paiement called the abstract show “a natural” and credited the new gallery owners for trying something different.

His piece, “Tone Scale,” involves bright colors, a digital display of words and numbers and plexiglass. He calls is “amongst one of the five best paintings I think I have ever done. That background orange is so beautiful it just makes you want to sigh. And that up against the beauty of the colors of the plexiglass, so complimentary.”

For Tremblay, the exhibition represents a homecoming. She formerly worked at the gallery.

Lori Tremblay, "Signs in Time," oil on panel.

Lori Tremblay, “Signs in Time,” oil on panel.

Her piece, “Signs in Time,” is a chart of the original 48 constellations as recorded and taught by ancient astronomers predating the Babylonians. In her piece, she references the path of the sun as it passes through 12 major constellations.

“Essentially, it attempts to display the intricate relationship of all things, from beginning to end, inside and outside of our understanding of all that is,” she said.

Daniel Anelmi, Untitled 11-12, painted paper collage on panel. Photos courtesy of Greenhut Galleries

Daniel Anelmi, Untitled 11-12, painted paper collage on panel.

The full lineup of artists showing work is: Daniel Anselmi, Chris Beneman, Grace DeGennaro, Ingrid Ellison, Tom Flanagan, Alison Goodwin, Ken Greenleaf, Jaap Eduard Helder, Elizabeth Hoy, Jon Imber, Penelope Jones, David Kelly, Richard Brown Lethem, George Lloyd, Frederick Lynch, Kayla Mohammadi, Lisa Noonis, Tom Paiement, Sandra Quinn, Noriko Sakanishi, Jenny Scheu, Claire Seidl, Lori Tremblay, Dietlind Vander Schaaf and Willa Vennema.

“Abstraction Invitational”

WHERE: Greenhut Galleries, 146 Middle St., Portland
WHEN: Opens Thursday, through Feb. 25; reception from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday
INFO: 772-2693 or greenhutgalleries.me

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